Monday Quick Hits

I was reminded of an incredible stat while reading Peter King this morning – at least five different NFL teams have made the playoffs after not making them the year before in each of the last 13 years. Considering that there are only 12 playoff teams that is truly incredible. The flip-side of that, of course, is that at least five playoff teams from one year haven’t made it the next. The short handicapping lesson to take from that – last year means almost nothing.

I saw a good portion of John Smoltz’s outing yesterday for the Red Sox. John Smoltz is done. I frankly don’t expect him to last through August with a spot in the rotation. He was pounded into submission yesterday, and it was against the freaking Orioles. The Red Sox have too much pitching talent around that is doing nothing (Clay Buchholz, for one) to waste time on a guy like Smoltz when they are fighting for their lives.

I spent some time this morning combing through the media catching up on baseball trade rumors. This stuff is hilarious – Victor Martinez is reportedly going everywhere except for Pittsburgh. I love when trade deadlines near – if a paper has a space to fill they just through together a few names and attribute it to an anonymous source.

The Spurs’ worst nightmare was partly realized this week. Tony Parker, off practicing with the French national team in preparation for the European championships, collided with an opposing player and hurt his thigh and ankle. It doesn’t seem like a serious injury, though he will miss about a week of practice. Given how much team’s pay top stars and howimportant they are to so many aspects of franchises, it won’t be long now until teams find a way to entirely ban their players from playing internationally.

Bobby Valentine has confirmed what we already knew – he isn’t returning to his Japanese team as manager next year. Let the MLB bidding war begin. There are at least a half dozen major league teams out there that would be significantly better with Valentine at the helm. My top choice – Kansas City.

Brandon Marshall reported for Denver’s training camp despite his ongoing trade demands. He can be a free agent next year, so I really hope he just puts his head down, tries to be as much of a model citizen as it is possible for him to be, and plays like we know he can. The guy is an impressive talent, but I’m not at all convinced that he is worth the trouble he brings to a team.

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